Though Chevrolet has made its presence felt in small hatchback category initially with Spark and then with the Beat; large premium hatch space has always remained out of its reach. Company tried its fortunes in this premium category with U-VA but it failed to create any ripples owing to its rather dated look and dull interiors. So for quite some time this segment has lured Chevrolet and now company has decided to give it another shot with SAIL. SAIL U-VA; a car that GM has jointly developed with SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation) has unveiled recently by company’s top honchos and now has arrived in the showrooms to take the fight right at the doorsteps of Maruti, Hyundai, Tata and Toyota.
But crucial question that is looming large is whether this product co-developed with China has got it all that is required to contest successfully the most overcrowded and lucrative segment of Indian 4-wheel industry? Will customers lap up the product that has some sort of association with Chinese quality? How overallSail U-VA as a complete proposition stack up against its worthy and sensible competitors? Though unfolding future wraps up answers of all these critical questions, for the time being, we, at ECARDLR, decided to dive deep into diesel U-VA to find out its overall appeal lying beneath its sensible pretensions.
One thing straight off the middle of the bat is that Sail is not an aggressive or ultra-chic design that rather differentiates Chevrolet’s offerings from other companies. This might be the influence of association with Chinese that Sail has rather outmoded design especially in contrast to Beat or Cruze. But if you are not very familiar with the design language of Chevrolet, odds high that you won’t dislike the outer skinning. Even for practical and sober family persons its design language is just perfect.
There is virtual V-shape grill with Chevrolet golden bow-tie situated at centre to embellish the front fascia. Hawk-wing style headlamps flaunt themselves aggressively and also flank the grill nicely. Air dam is also angular in nature and bonnet too gets a dominant bulge at the centre. Side design also follows the cues of practicality though there are sleek lines running across the length of Sail. What though grabs the attention is the heavily raked roof line which abruptly changes its angle after crossing the B-pillar. This has also caused some upright posture of the C-pillar and makes the things somewhat negative for the side aesthetics.
Rear portion of Sail has nothing special to offer that would make the improvement in the looks department. With its plump rear bumper and upward stretching tail lamps Sail looks quite dated. Even the loading lip is quite high and aperture is narrow too. Overall Sail makes an average impression on outer looks front and it is nowhere near the styling benchmark created by Chevrolet with some ultra-cool designs.
All in all Sail interiors are very practical, spacious and quite nice but having said that there is nothing extraordinary or differentiating factor that will compel you to go for it. To start with the cabin boasts of dual-cockpit design with soothing combination of coffee-beige colour. Not only these colours blend seamlessly but also augment the rather spacious cabin of the Sail.
Overall quality of material is good and hardwearing but far from exuding any kind of luxury. Centre console though functional and intuitive but lacks the modern cabin’s flair. Rising sun style instrument cluster looks good and digital rev counter add some excitement to otherwise very practical and sensible design.Front seats are big, large but fall short on bolstering though support is ample. Rotary air knobs are functional though the glove box is bit shallow. However door pockets are large and big enough to carry large bottles.
Settle at the back and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the abundance of all-around space. Though at the start the abrupt roof lining from outside hinted towards the low head room but in reality it isn’t the case. Legroom along with knee room and headroom has been supplied in abundance and Sail without any doubt will lure the customers with its spacious and roomy cabin.
Same spaciousness of cabin has been carried forward to trunk area as Sail boasts of decent 248 litres of cargo room which reaches an astonishing figure of 1,134 litres with fully-folded rear bench. This however requires some space compromise at the front seats where driver has to move its seating position a bit close to steering.
Sail comes with two engine options; one each of petrol and diesel. We tested out hand on practical one and took diesel Sail out for a spin. As Chevrolet has co-developed the famous multi-jet diesel engine with Fiat so there is no prize for guessing that Sail comes with the same multi-jet diesel engine boosting of 1.3 L of cubic capacity. It dishes out 78 PS of power (4 PS more than other cars using same heart) and 205 NM of torque (15 Nm more).
Idling of engine is not very silent and Sail scores average on the refinement front. But when it comes to tractability Sail is all set to become a benchmark on the city driving aspect. The same multi-jet diesel engine behaves entirely different in Sail and there is no problem of traction even in low range of the rpms’. It initially seemed that Sail has used gearing on the shorter side to get this exceptional practicality but then we got even more surprised with the its mid-range behaviour which shows not even an iota of hint related to trailing off the power during rev-build up.
Similar to the impressive nature of engine, gear box made its mark with short and direct throws. Clutch is light but travels a bit longer than desired. Brakes are effective and steering is very light. Although light nature of steering augurs well for city driving; it has its consequences on dynamic ability of the U-VA.
Sail uses the McPherson struts up front while twist axle beam at rear to suspend then wheels. 14” alloy wheels are shrouded with 175 mm of wide rubber with height to width ratio of 70. Ride of the Sail is pretty much sorted and passengers won’t complaints about the bumps creeping inside though there is slight hint of firmness that is perceptible at slow speed. Still Sail makes a decent case for itself on ride front and this fact will surely be appreciated by the practical Indian customers.
On the handling front also Sail won’t give up easily and opposite to our presumption this Chinese collaboration is not something that tends to roll heavily. So U-VA strikes a very balancing act when it comes to the dynamic ability though there is denying away from the fact that this balance is somewhat tilted in favour of ride characteristic. Further as already discussed steering wheel is quite light in its operation; it is totally devoid of any feedback that would have otherwise made the driving of U-VA more pleasant experience.
With starting price of 4.44 lakh (petrol base model) top diesel variant goes all the way to 6.62 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). On value for money Sail is an excellent proposition has the ability to give a tough fight to other premium hatchbacks. And not only on VFM aspect, Sail has all the ingredients that make it a sensible, practical and sober proposition especially for the city run. It might not having top range performance of Swift or dynamics of Punto but then it comes equipped with large and spacious cabin, decent ride, cavernous boot with aided flexibility of rear bench and fuel-efficient diesel heart. We think the Chevrolet has put its best foot forward with Sail and it would have been made more impact had they retained their design DNA. Nonetheless we have all the praise for this new Chevy and hope customers will agree with us.
Style & Substance 2.5/5 Ride & Handling 3/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3.5/5 Safety & Equipment 3/5
Power Plant & Transmission 3.5/5 Fuel Efficiency 3/5
Value for Money 4/5